(“I’m not a little girl by any means.”)
The hordes of screaming Gina “Crush” Carano fans who tune into the premiere of CBS’s “Saturday Night Fights” this weekend to see EliteXC’s poster girl kick some ass might be in for a seriously rude awakening. Carano’s opponent for the co-featured bout is Kaitlin Young, a 21-year-old Minnesota Martial Arts Academy product who famously knocked out three women in a one-night HOOKnSHOOT tournament last November; the combined fight time was just one minute and 45 seconds. We gave Kaitlin a call last night to ask her about rolling with dudes, the advantages she’ll have in her fight against Carano, and her shitty ’91 Honda Accord.
CAGEPOTATO: We recently posted the video of your “Caveman Training” at Athletic Performance Incorporated. Be honest — they took they engine out of that pickup truck you were pulling, right?
KAITLIN YOUNG: No, everything was as-is, just as it came from the factory. Honestly, it’s not as hard as it looks. The wheelbarrow is the real killer.
When did you know you wanted to be a competitive fighter?
It’s really all I ever wanted to do. I did Olympic-style Tae Kwon Do starting when I was 14, and I’ve enjoyed the fighting arts ever since then.
Are there enough women at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy to spar and roll with, or do you usually have to train with the guys?
There are a couple of other girls, but it’s mostly guys that I’m training with at this point. Greg Nelson and Tom Schmitz help me a lot. My boyfriend Ryan Murray is a big heavyweight pro Thai boxer, so he helps me with striking and pads, and some of the wrestlers from the University of Minnesota have been working with me too.
What else do you do when you’re not training for a fight?
This semester I was a full-time student at the University of Minnesota, studying kinesiology — exercise science, which kinda fits in — and I also do a bit of strength and conditioning coaching on the side at API.
You took your first pro loss in February, against Sara Schneider at a BodogFight event. What do you think went wrong?
She did a good job executing her game plan, so I don’t want to take anything away from her, but I think I made the mistake of following a good grappler to the ground when I’m a striker. I was winning pretty decisively on the feet, and I tried to pound her out and got caught in an armbar.
How do you think you’ll apply that lesson to Gina Carano? She comes from a Muay Thai background, but she’s at least serviceable on the ground.